The county announced today that it will start clearing 10 miles of trails at the same time as priority arterial roads. The Department of Parks and Recreation has cleared trails around the county before, but this will be the first time the highly-used trails will be plowed during and immediately after snowstorms.
The trails that will be cleared are:
- 5.2 miles of the Custis Trail, from the W&OD Trail to N. Lynn Street
- 2.25 miles of the Four Mile Run Trail from Reagan National Airport to Shirlington Road
- 1.25 miles of the Bluemont Junction Trail from Fairfax Drive in Ballston to the W&OD Trail
- and 0.4 miles of the Route 110 trail from the Iwo Jima Memorial to Arlington National Cemetery
The county does not own two of the most highly-used trails in Arlington — the W&OD Trail and the Mount Vernon Trail. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority owns the W&OD and the National Park Service owns the Mount Vernon Trail. For updates during snow storms on the status of those and other trails around the county, cyclists and walkers should refer to the BikeArlington forums, the county says.
The county’s Dept. of Environmental Services is also starting a pilot program this winter to clear the county’s protected bike lanes of snow using specialized equipment. As more protected bike lanes come to the county — such lanes are in the design phase for S. Eads Street in Crystal City — DES is requesting more funding for the program for future winters.
According to WashCycle, a protected bike lane could be also coming to Wilson Blvd between Rosslyn and Courthouse. The bike advocacy blog says the cycle track is “in design and evaluation right now.”
Residents can monitor the progress of snow removal from roadways around the county by visiting Arlington’s snow and ice website, which has links to view the 83 traffic cameras around the county, and posts updates during snow removal processes.
DES received a $300,000 budget boost from the County Board this past spring, earmarked to allow trail plowing, according to the Washington Post. Cyclists represent about 1 percent of those who commute to or from work in Arlington County, survey data shows.
Arlington County has 92 drivers and 46 trucks among its snow-clearing resources. The drivers received computer-based simulator training to prepare for this winter season and potential safety hazards, the county said in a press release.
This winter, weather forecasters are predicting colder temperatures and more snow than normal.
(Updated at 10:00 a.m.) Shortly after being caught on video driving the wrong way down Military Road — a story first reported on ARLnow.com — an Arlington County snow plow driver ran a stop sign and caused a multi-vehicle accident, according to police.
The accident happened at 9:18 a.m. on Monday. The 51-year-old plow driver was heading southbound on S. Monroe Street when he ran a stop sign at 18th Street S. and struck an eastbound Toyota Highlander on the driver’s side rear panel, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The Highlander then struck two parked cars.
“There were no reported injuries as a result of the accident,” Sternbeck told ARLnow.com. The driver was cited by officers for disregarding a stop sign.
The accident happened less than two hours after local filmmaker Jason Berry said he was nearly run off the road by the plow, which was driving the wrong way down hilly, twisting Military Road. At Tuesday’s Arlington County Board meeting, Board Chair Jay Fisette encouraged County Manager Barbara Donnellan to take disciplinary action.
“I think all of us saw that video and thought, ‘oh my God,” Fisette said. “That was horrible. It’s inconceivable to me that there’s a justification for driving a [snow plow] down the wrong side of the road. It was quite amazing to watch the video. We are just fortunate that nothing terrible… came of that particular driving experience.”
Donnellan reported that the driver was working a midnight-to-noon shift and called the incident “unfortunate,” “dangerous” and a “near miss situation.”
“This is completely unacceptable behavior for snow plowing. it is a violation of our Arlington county driver policy and training,” Donnellan said. “As soon as the county learned of the unacceptable behavior we identified the responsible driver and immediately removed him from duty.”
“The investigation is underway,” Donnellan continued. “We’re taking appropriate action with this employee. A full range of disciplinary actions is always on the table for serious safety violations. Our safety policy strives for zero incidents.”
Donnellan noted that the county also received calls thanking snow removal crews for their tireless work during this snowy winter.
“It’s easy to focus on one driver, on one day, but we also have many, many drivers who are safe, courteous and do great work too,” Donnellan said. “My many thanks goes out to staff who works incredibly hard during these weather events to keep our community safe and to keep our streets, trails and sidewalks clear.”
(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) An Arlington County snow plow was spotted driving the wrong way on Military Road today, and part of the incident was caught on video.
Jason Berry, a local filmmaker and entrepreneur, says he encountered the snow plow head on while driving down Military Road in the Donaldson Run neighborhood around 7:30 a.m.
“I came over a hill and headed right towards me was this snow plow in my lane,” Berry told ARLnow.com via email. “The driver did not move or slow down, I was forced out of my lane into the deeper snow in between lanes. I temporarily lost control of my car and managed to use the e-brake to slide to a stop.”
“I then was facing the other direction in the other lane so I proceeded to catch back up to the plow and that is where the video starts,” Berry continued. “The plow is seen driving in the wrong lane THROUGH an intersection (of Military and Marcey Road), which is at the crest of a blind hill.”
Berry, 44, said he has “never seen such a brazen act of indifference” on the part of a snow plow driver while living in Arlington and, previously, in snowy Rochester, N.Y.
Arlington County says the plow driver was not following proper procedures.
“This is completely unacceptable behavior for snow plowing and it was in violation of Arlington County’s plow driver practices and training,” Dave Hundelt, a manager at Arlington’s Water, Sewer and Streets Bureau, told ARLnow.com via email just after 12:30 p.m.
“As soon as the County learned of the unacceptable behavior, we identified the driver and removed him from duty,” Hundelt said. “We will be taking appropriate action with this employee. Safety is a priority for the County, and we encourage any driver issues or concerns to be reported to the police.”
In a separate incident, another snow plow — a VDOT contractor, according to a department spokeswoman — became disabled after it ran up on the center divider on Route 50 near Glebe Road this morning. No word yet on how that happened.
Video (top) courtesy Jason Berry. Photo (bottom) courtesy @ATrombs.
(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) Arlington has largely wrapped up its snowplowing effort following Monday’s snowstorm.
As of last night residential roads were “essentially plowed,” with the exception of some streets that were “packed down ice after the cold temperatures,” according to Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Robyn Mincher.
“Driving conditions are stable, and residents should drive with care,” Mincher said. “Several snowplows are out working this morning on reported requests or any issues with schools. Plows have ceased active street-to-street plowing, and we are applying salt or sand in areas with significant need such as hills.”
County crews — more than 40 trucks — were in “full snow mode,” plowing and treating Arlington’s nearly 1,000 lane miles of roadway, from midnight Sunday to 10:00 p.m. Tuesday night, according to Mincher.
A high temperature in the mid-40s and plenty of sunshine today is expected to continue to melt the snow, slush and ice that remains on local streets.
Update at 4:00 p.m. — The Department of Environmental Services says all of its trucks are back out this afternoon to spread salt and make sure snow and ice are melting on residential streets. A small team will remain on standby overnight to address any possible areas that may re-freeze.
Earlier — All of the weather advisories for Arlington County have been cancelled and the snow has stopped falling, but the storm’s effects still linger around the county.
VDOT reports having more than 1,900 trucks clearing state roads throughout Northern Virginia. Arlington County sent out crews on its streets beginning at 4:00 a.m. to treat primary and secondary roads. Traffic cameras show most major roads are clear and traffic is largely moving smoothly throughout the county as of 2:00 p.m. Drivers are encouraged to exercise extra caution through tomorrow because temperatures will drop and slush on the roads could freeze.
The Arlington County government remained open but the following services have been affected:
- Trash/Recycling/Brush collection crews are performing collection services. If they are unable to get to certain streets because of the street conditions, they will go back and complete collection tomorrow.
- Vacuum leaf collection has been canceled for today. Collection will resume in zone three tomorrow.
- Bag leaf collection crews are out collecting leaves today. If crews are unable to get to certain streets because of the conditions, they will also go back and complete the collections tomorrow.
- Mulch deliveries for today have been rescheduled for tomorrow. Customers have been notified.
ART buses had been operating on a limited schedule earlier today and they returned to normal by late morning.
According to the Arlington County Police Department, Public Service Aides still will enforce parking regulations. Parking enforcement is in place every day the county government is open for business. However, Public Service Aides only will be used for parking enforcement duties today when they are not busy assisting police with necessary functions related to winter weather.
Although officers and emergency responders are out in full force to assist with emergencies, residents are asked to remain off the roads for safety reasons.
“Residents are encouraged to stay off the roads today and minimize their traveling if possible,” said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “If they need to go out then they are encouraged to use public transportation in an attempt to minimize accidents, road congestion and so that county staff and road crews can perform their jobs as safely as possible.”
Arlington Public Schools closed today and so far no decision has been made about Wednesday. From APS:
“APS will continue to monitor the road conditions in collaboration with Arlington County and our regional partners throughout the remainder of the day, tonight and early tomorrow morning. If APS opens on time on Wed, Dec. 11, we will go forward with the previously-announced school calendar, including the scheduled countywide elementary early release. If schools have a two-hour delayed opening tomorrow, the elementary early release will be cancelled and school will end at the normal dismissal time, in accordance with our normal procedures.”
Forecasters have been predicting some sort of precipitation on Sunday, but it’s unclear whether it will be mainly snow or rain. As is often the case in our area, weather models are changing by the hour. Don’t get your hopes up for a repeat of the Presidents Day Blizzard of 2003 — but do plan on the chance of the season’s most significant snowfall.
In advance of the possible storm, the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services has issued a Phase 1 Alert, meaning crews will pre-treat roads with salt or brine as necessary. They’re also preparing snow removal equipment and personnel for the weekend.
Dominion Virginia Power also reports making preparations. Trucks are being stocked and fueled, and crews are ready to respond to outages. Customers can call 1-866-DOM-HELP to report outages and downed lines.
Here’s one way that Arlington County is making sure that pedestrian routes like the W&OD Trail are clear for cyclists, runners and walkers during the winter.
This pickup-mounted snow plow was spotted near today’s fire on Four Mile Run Drive.
Update on 12/23/10 — Since there was some confusion in the comments, we asked Department of Environmental Services spokesperson Myllisa Kennedy to clarify the county’s trail plowing policy.
“The County does a limited amount of snow clearing on trail sections where they provide the greatest community benefit including access to schools, metro rail stations, hospitals, or other areas frequented by the public,” Kennedy said. “Other county priorities include streets, bridges, and sidewalks on school routes, around county buildings and other operational needs.”
“A Date Which Will Live in Infamy” — On Dec. 7, 1941, the American naval base at Pearl Harbor was attacked suddenly and without warning, costing 2,402 lives and leading to the United States’ entry in World War II. More from Wikipedia.
Towing Fines Aren’t Enforced — Towing companies have been found to have violated Arlington’s towing laws more than a dozen times in the past two years. But so far, none have ever been fined. That’s despite the fact that the county’s towing ordinance allows fines of up to $1,000. More from TBD.
VDOT Aims for More Conscientious Plowing — After a blizzard of complaints last winter about snow piles on sidewalks and in bus shelters, VDOT is trying to clean up its act. The agency is asking its contractors to be more careful when plowing roads in the county. VDOT is responsible for plowing state-owned roads in Arlington, including Glebe Road and Washington Boulevard. More from the Sun Gazette.
Arlington County is continuing its plea for drivers to stay off the roads. Police have been responding to reports of cars and trucks stranded in the road, blocking plows.
Crews are still out trying to keep main roads passable for emergency vehicles. Secondary roads will not be treated until well after the snow stops, except in instances where emergency vehicles need assistance getting to a call.
Several plows got stuck in the snow overnight. One plow needed to be towed, according to the Arlington Department of Environmental Services.